There are at least four options -- and maybe more, listening to the people who attended the public meeting last night at Byron Town Hall -- for the citizens of Byron and Bergen to consider for library space now that the Gillam-Grant Community Center will stop funding support for the library in that facility.
About 40 people attended last night's meeting, and most had something to say about the library situation.
"We have a lot of work to do," Kristin Gordon, financial secretary for the Byron-Bergen Public Library Board, said after the meeting. "It's obvious to me that the consensus of the crowd is to keep both libraries open. The public feedback is important. There were lots of good points made tonight and I assure you none of it will fall on deaf ears.
Certainly, both library locations have their supporters.
The town people seem to favor Gillam-Grant, while the village folk like their easily accessible library location.
"Kids walk to the library every day," Cheryl Wittman, of Bergen, who said she's lived in the area for 29 years. "A lot of the programs they have at night, the summer programs, and lots of parents work so they can't take them there, so they need to walk."
An older woman in the audience said a short time later, “It’s got to stay in the village. It’s got to.”
But many town residents seemed to favor the Gillam-Grant location, arguing that it is more easily accessible to the entire community, not just the village residents.
It is also a newer, slightly large facility.
The village library is about 1,400 square feet and was described by board members as small and in need of expansion. The Gillam-Grant location is 2,000 square feet and has room for offices and storage space.
The rent for the Gillam-Grant location, however, is $8,000 per month, while the village location is $1,200 per month.
One audience member pointed out that with a combined library, with increased traffic and more books to store, the additional 600 sq. ft. isn't that much more space.
And all of the options for the community are like that -- every option has pros in cons.
In fact, every member of the crowd received a piece of paper that listed the four main options with the pros and cons of each option written out.
The four primary options are:
- Close the Gillam-Grant location and keep the village location;
- Close the village location and keep Gillam-Grant
- Obtain school district/special district library status
- Keep both locations open, relying on existing town funding or through status change.
None of the options are clear-cut winners. Besides the financial and space constraints associated with the current locations, an option that involves creating a new special district would take 18 months to two years to complete.
The funding for the Gillam-Grant location -- which pays for building operations and staffing -- is set to expire Dec. 31.
The comunity has a chance to come together again tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue at the Bergen Village Hall.